Written by sex journalist and expert, Gabrielle Kassel, for The Cowgirl.
10 Anal Sex Tips To Maximize Pleasure (And Minimize Pain)
Whether you’re about to take your first dip into the anal pond, or are a long time swimmer, there are a few key steps you need to take for a pleasurable sex sesh. Lucky for you, this guide explains exactly what those steps are—plus, how to execute them to peachfection.
Read on for a step-by-step guide to anal play, as well as intel on why someone might want to have anal sex, and how you can make it as pleasurable and poop-free as possible. Onward!
The Benefits of Anal Sex
Before breaking down exactlyhow to approach the backdoor, let’s explorewhy someone might want to in the first place.
The short answer: It can feel good… really good. The entrance of the anal opening is jam-packed with thousands of nerve-endings, explains Goody Howard MSW, MPH, the resident sex educator for Royal, a vegan-friendly condom and lubricant company. (Estimates say it has upwards of 4,000 nerve-endings, which is the same number in the tip of a penis).
The internal anal canal also contains nerves on nerves on nerves, adds Daniel Saynt, founder of NSFW, a private members club for sex, kink, and cannabis-positive pleasure-seekers.
Depending on who is doing the penetrating, anal sex can also be used to reinforce certain power dynamics ad sexual scripts. Or, in the case of pegging (strap-on anal sex between a woman and man), flip them on their head.
For some, anal sex can also be gender and sexuality affirming. Carlton, 24, a gay transgender man says, “Whether I’m on receiver of anal penetration or the giver (with a strap-on), engaging in penetrative anal sex makes me affirmed as a man, and as a gay man.”
And Vanessa, 32, a queer, non-opp transwoman says, “I love that my partner and I can role-play that I have a vagina when I’m being anally penetrated.” Actually, she and her partner don’t usually call it ‘anal sex’ at all, but vaginal sex. “My boyfriend calls my ass my vagina when fucking my hole and I love it.”
10 Steps For Pleasurable Anal Sex
Now that you know you want to have anal sex, there’s one more thing we need to do before we begin our anal sex journey. And that’s breakdown how to have anal sex, one step at a time.
1. Quit Fretting About Fecal Matter
Anal sex involves putting something in and around the hole poop comes out. So, it’s understandable most people’s biggest concern around anal sex is poop. But actually, poop during anal play is far rarer than you might guess! After a little anal anatomy lessons you’ll understand why.
During penetrative anal sex, the finger, penis, dildo, or other toy fills the anal canal. Poop is *not* stored in the anal canal! Poop is stored higher up in the body in the colon, which is separated from the anal canal by a contracted anal spinster muscle that only relaxes enough to allow poop to pass through when your bodytells your brain it has to shit, and then your brain tells that muscle to relax.
If you know that “I have to shit” feeling your body gets after eating something spicy (just me?) you know exactly what it feels like when your body tells your brain it has to shit. And unless you get that signal in the middle of sex and ignore it, odds are very (very!) slim that you’re going to take a full-on dump in the middle of backdoor nookie.
What’s slightly more common is for the penetrative body part or toy to come in contact with a little bit of leftover fecal matter that was left in the anal canal following a poop. Luckily, a good post-deuce wipe, shower, and fiber-rich diet are enough to eliminate most leftover smears.
(Have more questions about the poop thing? We recommend checking out b-Vibe’s complete guide to anal hygiene).
2. Stock Up On Lube—Then Use It Why
“Store-bought lube is life no matter what kind of sex you're having, but when it comes to anal sex it could be the difference between pleasure and pain,” says Howard.
Why? Because the anal canal cannot self lubricate! (And actually, anal self-lubrication is a sign of infection).
That means that in order to experience the pleasurable slide-and-glide lube offers, you have to manually add it in.
Already own a lubricant marked for butt play? Saynt recommends using that. If you’re on the market for a new lube, which you buy will depend on what type of anal sex you’re planning to have, as well as what barriers you’re planning to use (if any) while you have it.
Water-based lubricant is best anytime you’re going to be using a silicone toy. For instance, during pegging or play with a silicone butt plug or string of anal beads. While silicone- lube is thicker and longer lasting than water-based lube, silicone lube isn’t not compatible with silicone toys. (Silicone sticks to itself).
During anal sex with a penis, finger, or fist, oil-based is a great… as long as you’re not using a latex barrier. (Oil degrades latex). Using an oil-based lube while using a condom, finger cot or sex glove will keep the barrier from as effectively preventing the risk of STI transmission.
3. Familiarize Yourself With Your Fanny.
No doubt, partnered and multi-partnered anal play can be amazing! But we consider partnered anal play to be Level 201. Why? Because no matter how well you and your partner(s) communicate there is at least a little lag time between you communicating, and them responding.
During solo anal sex there is no such lag exists, which allows you to avoid discomfort and experience as much pleasure as possible. That’s why we recommend starting with solo anal masturbation before graduating to partnered play.
Beyond maximizing pleasure, “anal masturbation is a great way to try out did types of anal orgasms,” according to Saynt. Yep, orgasms plural. “There are a few types of orgasms you can achieve through anal masturbation both with your fingers and with toys, and exploring these at your own pace and at your own time can be amazing.”
4. Use Your Fingers or Toys
You don’t want to start with the biggest toy or body part, says Saynt. “You need to give your butt hole an opportunity to be stimulated by something smaller first.”
His recommendation: Start off with gentle stimulation with a finger, anal-safe vibrator, tongue, or plug. If you opt for a plug, check out the Beginner ButtStuff Bundle which includes a non-vibrating and vibrating butt plug, as well as a bottle of toy cleaner and lube.
(Don’t worry, eventually you’ll be able to graduate to larger toys like The Cowgirl and larger body parts like your partner’s cock).
5. Discuss Safer Sex Practices.
Yes, much of the focus during your sex ed growing up (if you had it at all!) was on the infection risk of penis-in-vagina sex. But that doesn’t mean anal sex is risk-free—it’s not.
“Sexually transmitted infectionscan be transmitted during anal sex,” says Howard. In fact, due to the delicate nature of the anal canal, the receptive partner is particularly susceptible to sexually transmitted infections when sleeping with an person with an STI, she says.
“I recommend using condoms during penetrative anal sex with any partner who’s STI status you do not know.”
6. Pick A Hole, Then Stick With That Hole.
Public service announcement: Once the poop shoot has been penetrated with a penis or toy, that same penis or toy CANNOT be used to penetrate a pussy or piehole.
That’s because even a fecal-free anal canal contains bacteria. In the anal canal these bacteria have a protective purpose, but if transferred to the vagina they can wreck havoc on the delicate pH of the vagina, increasing risk of infections like bacterial vaginosis (BV) or urinary tract infections (UTI).
And, if transferred to the mouth, these bacteria can cause GI distress and oral infection.
If you want to switch holes, you need to clean the sex toy or body part first with soap and water, says Howard. “Another option is to simply switch out the condom,” says Saynt.
7. Explore Different Anal Sex Positions.
You’d be forgiven for thinking doggy style is the only anal sex position! But “there are more anal friendly positions than people realize,” says Howard. Here are her 3 faves:
A spin on the classic penetrative position, lifted missionary puts the receiver on their back with a pillow under their hips. Because it allows for eye-contact and (easy) smooching, this is a great option for anal sex beginners looking for a more intimate experience.
In addition to being comfy AF, “spooning is great because it allows the thrusting partner the ability to see what's going on and space to stop, slow down, or leverage their body weight for pressure changes more quickly than any other position,” says Howard.
“For experienced anal pros, rider-on-top is a great because it allows the receiver to control depth, pressure, angle, and stroke as well as make space for other types of genital stimulation,” says Howard. Plus, it’s super visually stimulating.
8. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
“When it comes to anal sex, communication is king,” says Howard. And that stands for all pleasure-seekers involved!
If you're the insertive partner, you need to be constantly checking with your lover about the sensations they’re experiencing. She recommends quick lines like:
- Do you like this?
- Do you like this angle?
- Is this depth working for you?
- How does this feel, babe?
If you’re the receptive partner, you need to respond honestly to these inquiries. And “say something if anything stops feeling good or starts to feel like too much,” says Howard.Remember: Pain is your body's yellow light, letting you know that you need to slow down. “
“As the receiver youhave to feel at ease communicating with the giver because it builds intimacy, connection, and can add layers to the pleasure,” she says. And if you don’t? Eh, this is probably not the person you should be exploring anal with!
9. Practice Aftercare
Anal sex is an vulnerable sex act and knowing what to do after a play session is just as vital as the act itself!
Your move: Check in with your partner after play. You might ask:
- Can I run you a bath?
- Do you want anything to eat or drink?
- What can I do to help you feel loved right now?
This is also a good time to reassure your partner by dishing compliments. You might, for example, tell them how much you loved being that close to them. Or, how sexy they look lying in your bed.
10. Explore Anal Training.
Did you enjoy the anal sex you had? If you did, and it was the internal sensation of fullness of turned you on most, you might consider anal training.
Anal training is the multi-week long process of preparing your bum-hole to (comfortably!) accept larger toys or body parts. It involves putting an anal toy in your body and letting it stay there for anywhere for a short period of time, in order to train the anal sphincter muscles to relax around it.
Sure, it’s a little bit of a commitment! But the training itself is pleasurable. And with pleasurable anal play promised in your future, there’s really no reason *not* to anal train!
4 Anal Sex Myths, Busted
No sex act is as plagued by myth and misconception the way anal sex is. From homophobes claiming enjoying anal makes you gay (🙄) to idiots insisting pain during peach play is normal (it’s not), there’s a whole lot of #fakenews out there.
That’s why we called on three sex educators to set the record on rump-play straight. Below, they highlight 4 common anal sex myths, and replace them with fanny fucking facts!
Myth #1: Anal Sex Is Supposed To Hurt
Nope! Sex—anal sex included— is not supposed to be painful unless that is a sensation that you areactively seeking out, and have discussed in detail ahead of play with your partner(s).
On the contrary, anal sex is supposed to feel pleasurable!” The anus contains tons and tons of nerve endings that can be stimulated through anal play,” says Daniel Saynt, founder of NSFW, a private members club for sex, kink, and cannabis-positive pleasure-seekers.
In fact, the entrance of the anal canal alone has the same number of nerve endings as the tip of the penis (4,000). So, if you can understand why someone might enjoy having the tip of their penis stimulated, so should you understand why anal stimulation feels good.
If you are experiencing pain during anal play, it’s a sign that you need more lube, should switch to a less girthy (or lengthy) object of penetration, or try out a different position.
Myth #2: Enjoying Anal Sex Makes You Gay
Wrong, wrong, wrong! Neither enjoying anally penetrating someone nor being anally penetrated make you gay!
“The idea that men who are into butt stuff are gay is a painfully dated myth perpetuated by people who don’t understand the levels of pleasure which can be derived from backdoor play,” says Saynt. Specifically: Homophobic, biphobic, sex-negative people who don’t understand the pleasure potential of the romp. “People are into anal play because they receive pleasure from anal stimulation,” he adds, not because they’re gay.
FAQs ANSWERED: Does anal sex make me gay?
“People have sexual orientationsnot sex acts,” adds queer psychotherapist and sex and relationship expert Rachel Wright, LMFT . And sexual orientation is determined by personal identification alone, and personal identification alone. In other words, you’re only gay if you say “I’m gay!”. So while it’s possible to enjoy anal sex *and* be gay, the two are not mutually exclusive nor synonymous.
Myth #3: Anal Sex IsOnly Pleasurable For The Giver
Indeed, anal sexis pleasurable for the giver. For givers with a penis, anal intercourse provides feel-good friction and warmth along every inch of the shaft. And for vagina-havers giving with a strap-on, anal intercourse enables the base of dildo to provide pleasurable pressure against the pubic mound, labia, or clit, with every stroke. In fact, some vagina-owners can climax from this sensation alone!
Further, pleasuring a partner is itself its own brand of pleasure. Think about it: what’s hotter than hearing a partner moan knowing your tongue, toy, or digit is responsible for those uncontrolled animal noises? Answer: nothing.
That said, anal sex is also pleasurable for the receiver! Again, both the anal opening and anal canal are nerve-dense erogenous zones that respond to being stimulation.
“For people with penises, anal penetration also feels intense because the prostate is located in the anus,” adds Howard. An erogenous zone that responds well to pressure, “the prostate has been likened to the g-spot,” she says. In fact, some prostate-owners can climax from prostate stimulation alone!
Myth #4: Anal Sex Will Stretch Out Your Butt
Not true! “There’s practically zero chance that regular anal play is going to lead a looser hole,” according to Saynt.
To understand why anal sex does *not* stretch out the anal opening, you have to understand how the anal muscles functions. Ready for a butt-muscle lesson?
The anal canal has three different sphinchter muscles. Two at the entrance of the canal, and one at the way of the canal. In order for anal play to be pleasurable (not painful) the first two need to be in a relaxed, non-contracted position. Analingus, anal fingering, and anal massage can all help these muscles relax.
The risk of injury comes if these muscles are not relaxed at the time of penetration. Howard likens it to trying to do a split before your hamstrings are warmed-up. Just as you can pull or overstretch your hammie, you can overstretch your sphincter, she says.
The good news: Your body lets you know that it’s not ready to be penetrated through pain. “Don't worry, as long as you're aroused, relaxed, using lube, and doing kegels you don't have to worry about your hole loosening and not being able to hold in your poops,” says Howard.
“A great rule of thumb is to listen to your body and if something feels "off", give your butt a break,” she says. Noted!